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The blue sections of this picture depict the new section of the Final Repository for Short-Lived Radioactive Waste, SFR, that SKB wants to extend into the bedrock under the sea.

Time for the main hearing regarding the extension of SFR

SKB has applied for a licence to extend the final repository for short-lived radioactive waste, SFR, which has been in operation in Forsmark since 1988. The Land and Environment Court will try the matter according to the Swedish Environmental Code and will hold a main hearing in the case, starting 23 September.

The present SFR is used for final disposal of waste from the operation of the nuclear power plants. The waste may consist of filters that have collected radioactive elements in the reactor water, used tools and protective clothing. But also radioactive waste from medical care, veterinary care, research and industry is disposed of in SFR. The extended facility is needed to provide space for final disposal of low- and intermediate-level operational and decommissioning waste from the Swedish nuclear power plants.

– The absolute majority of the waste, around 90 percent, that arises when decommissioning a nuclear power plant is conventional construction waste. In addition, a small part can be disposed of in near-surface repositories or released for unrestricted use.  The remainder is waste that is classified as short-lived waste and that will be disposed of in SFR. So to provide space for the short-lived decommissioning waste, we must extend the SFR facility, says Peter Larsson, SKB’s project manager for the licensing process.

A small fraction of the decommissioning waste is classified as long-lived waste and will be disposed of in the planned final repository for long-lived waste, SFL. SFL is planned to be in operation in the 2040s.

An extensive licensing process before obtaining a licence

The process of obtaining a licence to extend the repository is both long and extensive.  At the end of 2014, SKB submitted an application for the extension and continued operation of SFR under both the Environmental Code and the Nuclear Activities Act. The application under the Environmental Code is first examined by the Land and Environment Court and then by the Government, while the application under the Nuclear Activities Act is examined by the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority and the Government.

Regulatory authority experts have reviewed the documentation submitted by SKB and, at the same time, a large number of reviewing bodies have had the opportunity to provide their comments during the process.

– The reviewing bodies have raised important questions during the course of the review. SKB has considered, analysed and answered these questions, says Peter Larsson.

The main hearing takes place between 23 September and 3 October and will be held in the court premises in Stockholm. One day is located in Forsmark for an inspection of the site and the operations. The inspection gives the court members and the reviewing bodies the possibility to observe the conditions at the site with their own eyes.

The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority, SSM, has in its opinion to the Court judged that SKB’s application for extended operations in SFR is permissible according to the Environmental Code.

Parallel licensing under the Nuclear Activities Act

In parallel with the licensing under the Environmental Code, SSM’s examination of the application under the Nuclear Activities Act is also in progress. SSM plans to submit its opinion to the Government according to the Nuclear Activities Act at the same time as the Court gives its opinion under the Environmental Code.

SKB expects all licences to have become legally binding around 2023. Thereafter, the construction work can be initiated. It is then estimated to take about six years.


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